MEET THE LOVELY AFRICAN VIOLET

African violets have long been favorite house plants. By understanding their basic and simple cultural needs, they will grow and bloom for a long time.

Light: Several hours of sun daily or artificial grow lights are needed for healthy plants. Too much sun turns foliage yellow and causes the leaf edges to burn. Too little light produces lovely dark green leaves but few, if any, blooms. Plants should be turned a complete 360 degrees every month so that all leaves will receive an equal share of sunlight. An easy way to do this is to give each plant a quarter turn each week when watering. Remember to always turn the plants the in the same direction.

Temperature: When grown indoors, African violets will be comfortable if you are. Daytime temperature should be around 72 to 75 degrees; night, in the low 60’s. Excessive heat and excessive cold (below 55 degrees) will harm your plants.

Watering: Proper watering depends on the size of the pot, the weather, and the plant itself. Use tepid rather than cold water.

Fertilizing: Use balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-5, once a month during spring, summer and fall. Another option is to use diluted fertilizer and feed each time you water during the growing season. Never fertilizer sick or newly potted
plants.

Soil: The soil should be porous, almost fluffy. Many commercial mixtures potting mixes are available.

Follow these easy steps, watch for insects and disease, and enjoy these beautiful houseplant.

Linda Whetsell, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service




AFRICAN VIOLET

Easy to grow and maintain, the inexpensive African violet packs a powerhouse of color and cheer in a plant small enough to fit on a windowsill.

Adequate light, regular fertilization, and constant moisture are all these beauties require.

Morning sun from an east- or north-facing window will keep plants in bloom virtually non-stop year round. Fluorescent light exposure of ten to twelve hours per day is also adequate.

Fertilize with a liquid plant food labeled specifically for African violets or a general fertilizer with balanced N/P/K ratio.

Water when the soil surface is slightly dry to the touch. Don’t over water or allow plants to stand in water. Roots will quickly decay, and the plant will die.

Avoid splashes of cold water on the foliage, as this will lead to a dead spot on the leaf where the water has contacted it. This spot is unsightly but harmless. Use tepid water instead and periodically rinse dusty plants under a stream of warm water. Allow to dry away from the sunlight.

Give an African violet these bare essentials and step back and behold the beauty and cheer that will grace your windowsills even during the cold dreary days or winter or those long summer days when it’s too hot to be anywhere but inside!

Marva Lanier, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service




AFRICAN VIOLETS BRIGHTEN THE HOME

Beautiful blooms of the African violet (Saintpaulia inonatha) can be a delight in the grey days of winter. When spring seems long overdue, the glorious colors of the African violet blooms can brighten our days. When placed in an east window, they will produce an abundance of blooms. Several hundred cultivars are available, originating from crossing with many different wild forms native to tropical east Africa.

African violets are easy to grow and propagate. Light is a major requirement for best flowering in the home. A warm temperature of 60 to 75 degrees F. is required for growth. To propagate, select a large, healthy leaf and cut it from the plant with a one-inch petiole attached. Use a razor blade or a sharp knife. Specialized African violet potting soil is available at local stores. Fill a small plastic pot with soil. Using a pencil, make a hole in the soil and insert the cutting up to the leaf blade. Keep moist, and in a few weeks, you will see the cluster of plants appear. When the plants are four to five months old, divide the crown into single plants. You will have enough to share with your friends or to give as gifts.

Wincie Caskey, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service




WANT BLOOMS, GROW AFRICAN VIOLETS

There are lots of reasons why African violets are a favorite, but the fact that they bloom tops the list. There aren’t too many plants that bloom almost all the time, live in our homes and require minimum care.

African violets will bloom better in good light, either natural or fluorescent lighting. They need 10 to 12 hours a day. If there is too little light the plants will stretch toward the light and too much light will cause the leaves to look bleached.

In order to get a plant to bloom and stay in bloom, find a system of watering which allows the soil around the roots to stay evenly moist. Systems that work well for constant watering are wicking, capillary matting, and specially designed pots with water reservoirs. Violets also need sufficient moisture in the air. Avoid drafts of dry air that will prevent the tiny buds from opening.

Starving violets cannot afford to waste energy on blooming. Use a fertilizer with high phosphorus level. Healthy roots are critical to blooming. Violet soils should be approximately 1/3 water, 1/3 solids and 1/3 air. Adding water and solids are easy, but how do you add air. You have to use light perlite or vermiculite (prevents compaction) in combination with high quality peat moss.

Violet roots need temperature of about 65 to 75 degrees. Pot size is important so use the ratio of 1/3 of leaf span. A mature plant with a 12 inch leaf span will have a root system that is about 4 inches across.

There are several insects and fungi that keep plants from blooming: thrips, soil mealy bugs, cyclamen mites and powdery mildew. All of these require immediate attention.

Happy violets will bloom. If conditions around your plants are properly maintained, your violets can be happily blooming most of the time.

Brenda Ilschner, former Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service




ROOTING VIOLETS

For anyone who wants to enjoy a large table top full of blooming violets without spending a lot of money try the following: Cut a few leaves from a mature plant, preferably the largest and lowest leaves on the plant. Put the leaf cuttings in a water jar with clear plastic wrap across the top of the jar to keep the violets from falling in and the leaf cuttings getting wet. Make a small hole wherever you will put a leaf stem through the plastic wrap, making sure it is immersed in the water.

After several weeks, small roots will form. Let these roots attain good growth. These leaf cuttings can be placed in small containers with a well-drained commercial potting mix in them. Make sure that the potting soil is moist, but not wet.

After several more weeks, you will notice baby leaves forming above the soil line. After a few more weeks, many leaves will be visible. After substantial growth has occurred, look at the root system of the new plantlets. It should look as if there are several plants that all created from one leaf cutting.

Carefully rinsing the medium from the new plant and root system, you can identify where each new plant is coming from on the original leaf.

The last time I rooted violet leaves and subdivided the new plants from the leaf, I took off thirteen new violets from two vegetative leaves. The plants are now large, healthy, and doing well.

I do not worry so much about the size of the pot I put the plants in as that the plants are not over watered. When separating the new plants from the vegetative leaf, be sure that an adequate root system is left with each new plant that is being cut from the original leaf. Make sure you use a sharp knife and make clean cuts. Repot each new plant immediately.

Nadine Grabow, Smith County Master Gardener
Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Posted in Annuals